Throughout this election, Donald Trump has used his platform to divide the country, stoke hatred, and attempt to bully his way to the presidency. He’s even baselessly called for Hillary Clinton—the most qualified candidate for president in history—to be put in jail, browbeating the FBI along the way.
In July, FBI Director James Comey concluded a yearlong investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and decided not to move forward with any charges—saying it wasn’t even a close call. “No reasonable prosecutor,” he noted, would have chosen to pursue the case.
Then, yesterday, Director Comey released an incredibly vague letter to Congress with news about the investigation. Trump and other Republicans immediately tried to take advantage of the letter—and make it seem as though the FBI was reopening its investigation into Hillary’s emails.
That’s false. And it’s far from the only thing Trump and the Republican Party have tried to mislead the American people about in regard to Hillary’s emails.
That’s why we need to correct the record and get out the facts—because yesterday’s revelations were nothing more than a nothingburger.
Here’s what you need to know about Director Comey’s highly questionable letter:
1) Comey’s letter is not a reopening of the email investigation.
Immediately after Director Comey released his letter, news sources mistakenly characterized the investigation as “re-opened.” In the following hours, they were backpedaling, and it became clear that these initial reports were misguided.
According to CBS News, it is still “premature” to say the investigation into Hillary’s email server has been re-opened:
And a wide variety of news sources have already issued corrections.
2) According to the Los Angeles Times, the emails were “not to or from Hillary Clinton.”
Last night, the Los Angeles Times reported that the new emails referenced in Director Comey’s letter “were not to or from Clinton” and “appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered.”
This means that Hillary might have had no involvement in any of these new emails—and that it is very possible there’s no new information at all. In fact, it’s been reported that the FBI has not yet assessed the significance of the emails.
3) The emails may all be duplicates of emails the FBI has already reviewed.
According to several media reports, some—and maybe even all—of these emails may be duplicates of what the FBI had already obtained during their initial investigation.
“It is possible,” according to the Washington Post, “that some or all of the correspondence is duplicative of the emails that were already turned over and examined by the FBI.”
The New York Times even said it is “expected” that “many of the emails” will be “duplicates of emails that have already been scrutinized.”
4) Even senior Justice Department officials told the FBI not to send this letter. But Comey did anyway.
In a report from the Washington Post, we learned that “senior Justice Department officials warned the FBI that [Director Comey’s] decision … was not consistent with long-standing practices of the department.” These officials tried to warn the FBI that “we don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election.”
As standard practice, the FBI does not comment publicly on politically sensitive cases within 60 days of an election—let alone 11. So Comey’s letter was unprecedented and dangerous, and staff within the FBI agree.
A former Justice Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, went as far as to say that Director Comey’s decision was made without consideration of “the consequences to the public, to the people under investigation, or to the FBI’s own integrity.”
5) Comey himself said that the emails might not be significant.
In an internal letter to the FBI, Director Comey admitted that he didn’t even know if these emails were significant.
“We don’t know the significance,” he wrote, before saying he didn’t want to “create a misleading impression.”
In trying to avoid “create a misleading impression,” it’s hard to imagine how Director Comey could have failed more.
After all, as more information about the case has started to come out, it’s become clear that there is no evidence of wrongdoing, no charge of wrongdoing, and no indication that any of this is even about Hillary. Comey should have listened to his own warnings.
Director Comey owes the public the full story, or else he should not have opened the door in the first place.